Marcia's Musings and Fiber Tips 

Teaching Someone to Crochet

First, try to choose a smooth yarn without too many nubbies because the beginner will need to be able to see what he or she is doing. I generally recommend a nice worsted or a DK weight, typically in a solid, as a variegated yarn might also obscure what the person should be seeing as he or she makes his or her first attempts at crochet. 

One of the most common mistakes I've noticed when someone is learning to crochet is that he or she will often pull the chain stitches too tight and then will struggle with slipping the hook into the chain for the first row of single crochet. (This happens with some beginner knitters, as well. Remember, you need the yarn to breathe, and pulling too tightly will not only ruin the yarn but also make it awfully difficult to proceed.)

Here's a tip: if you are teaching someone to crochet, have him or her start out using his or her fingers instead of the hook. The chain will be looser and a bit easier to see/manipulate. The hook can come later. The idea is that you want the person to be able to see the bottom edge of the chain and the top two "bars" so that he or she will be able to go back and easily make that nice single crochet with its clear top edge. Tension and gauge can come later. 

Also, since the person is using his or her fingers, you can suggest that he or she should be able to fit his or her finger through the chain he or she just made rather than pulling it too tightly together. Doing so will give him or her a sense of how to keep from strangling the yarn when he or she is ready to move on to using a hook.

When that time comes, then, I recommend using a mid-sized hook for adults and a larger hook for smaller children. For instance, a J or K hook is a good mid-sized hook for an adult to learn on, but an M or N might be easier for the smaller hands of a child to learn to use. When he or she begins to use the hook, then, remind him or her that he or she will be doing the exact same thing he or she was doing with his or her fingers, but instead of fingers, he or she is simply using the hook as a tool.

Stress Relief

Knitting, crochet, spinning, and weaving can offer wonderful challenges to us when we are picking up a new technique, or when we decide to make something we've never tried before. And, most of us would probably agree that first picking up any of the fiber arts can feel stressful and frustrating when our stitches aren't even or we drop a stitch or break the fiber or are unable to find a degree of consistency.

But, keep practicing because one day playing with yarn and fiber WILL become relaxing and enjoyable and allow you to settle your mind as you work on your projects, and you may find that the more you play with fiber, the more you'll enjoy the relaxation it brings to both your mind and your body.

Needle Travel

If you are planning on traveling for work or vacation, and you want to know if you'll run into any fun yarn, quilt,embroidery, etc. stores, check out Needle Travel: https://www.needletravel.com/

It's a great website designed to help you find the needle arts of your choice wherever you'll be visiting. 

No "Right" or "Wrong" Way

One of my biggest fiber pet peeves comes from people who insist that holding the yarn in a particular way, or the way that you insert your hook or your needle is the "wrong" way to knit or crochet simply because it isn't the way that they do so. It's particularly disheartening and rude when certain people take it upon themselves to criticize someone because they don't hold their hands or wrap the yarn or twist their stitches the way that these naysayers do. If you are one of those naysayers, then STOP IT. So many people have stopped into H.W. and whispered that they the way they craft is "wrong," and they seem embarrassed by that fact. I always tell them there there isn't a "right" or a "wrong" way; there's the way that feels most comfortable for you.

The truth is, as long as you are achieving the same look, are able to complete the same effect, regardless of whether you throw your yarn or scoop it, you're FINE.

Let me repeat: YOU ARE FINE because there is no "wrong" or "right" way to knit or crochet so long as the finished product is what you were aiming for.

Casting On

Everyone has their own favorite method for casting on, and there's no "right" or "wrong" way to do so. There are a myriad of ways to cast on. Long tail. Short tail. Knitted cast on. Provisional cast on. Backward loop. ...

When knitting in the round or doing entrelac, though, my preferred method for casting on: the Cable Cast On. Here's why:

  1. It's structured and tends not to get wonky along the bottom edge, which can help when you are trying to make something that needs a more defined edge;

  2. It's less likely to twist when you join for knitting in the round. And, because of the way that the cast on edge lays on the cord of your circulars, it's easy to see if/when it is twisting, which makes it easier to correct before you join;

  3. You only have a short tail for weaving in at the end; and

  4. No guessing about how long of a tail you need for the number of stitches you are trying to cast on.

YouTube has a number of videos for how to do a cable cast on. Basically, you make a slip knot, cast on ONE through the knit-cast-on method, then insert your needle, or a small crochet hook under the needle and between the two stitches, pull the yarn through to make a loop, and pop that loop back onto the needle. Repeat, this time using the space between the stitch you just made and the stitch before it. Repeat.

 

Wool and the Gang has a great video demonstrating the cable cast on using large needles and super bulky wool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDgNpDYkxUk 

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